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There were those among the jury who would have liked the quick and flashy Suzuki SX4 to win the honours and there were those who liked the utilitarian virtues of the Mahindra Renault Logan better.
Those with a sporty bent wondered why a BMW could not win the title, while some thought the Chevrolet Spark represented a better value-for-money spin than the i10. As we told you, it was not a piece of cake winning the oldest automotive award in India.
But then we got to work. Driving these cars over a period of time over all kinds of roads, evaluating them over 21 critical parameters, testing them for fuel consumption figures in real life and ideal conditions, going through the performance runs with our state-of-the-art testing equipment that uses a minimum of three satellites to get data that is accurate to the last decimal.
And then we sat together and argued some more. It was important to keep the basic tenets of the BSM COTY in mind. Price, Fuel Consumption and Safety had to get priority over sheer acceleration numbers. Svelte design had to be backed by underpinnings that understood our road conditions. And more. Let us now look at the contenders before announcing the winners.
Only brand new cars made in India were the finalists for the COTY 2008. That meant some superstar cars like the Maruti [Get Quote] Suzuki Swift diesel and the Chevrolet Optra Magnum TCDi were not to be considered.
The final line-up consisted of the Hyundai i10, Chevrolet Spark, Mahindra Logan (diesel as well as petrol), Maruti Suzuki SX4, the Volkswagen Passat and the BMW 3 and 5 Series.
We have five awards for 2008. BSM Car Of The Year (for the overall winner), BSM Jury award (for the most significant launch other than the COTY winning car) and BSM Performance Car Of The Year (for the most exciting driver's car) are carried forward this year too.
Debuting from this year is the BSM Best Value (for a feature packed and capable car that is easy on the pocket to buy as well as run).
Also, the ever increasing tendency to assemble luxury cars in India rather than import them meant that we had to axe the Import Car Of The Year award in favour of a new category, the BSM Premium Car Of The Year.
The contenders for this category were cars that are far too expensive to be serious COTY contenders. These cars were superior in their abilities and it wouldn't have been fair to let them compete with cars with mass appeal, hence.
Business Standard Motoring Car Of The Year 2008 � Hyundai i10
The Hyundai i10 wins the honour by being a contemporary car that is built in India for the world. Being a small car with a 66 bhp engine carried over with modifications from the good old Santro meant that it could not outshine its competitors in the objective parameters.
Surprisingly, the i10 lost out to its nearest competitor in the market, the Chevrolet Spark in the performance test ratings. However, the i10 started scoring well in the subjective rounds where the jury appreciated its build quality, ride, handling and general driveability. The car scored heavily on the design front and in the fun-to-drive department as well. But the real clinchers were safety, economy and the price.
The i10 line-up has one variant that offers airbags and ABS which is an industry first for a new car in its league. BSM road tests evaluate the "real life" fuel consumption of cars after putting them through congested city roads, suburban traffic as well as highway driving, and the i10 scored a perfect ten by scoring all of the 25 points in this regard.
The fact that a basic model is available at Rs 3.59 (ex-showroom Mumbai) meant that it cleared the price benchmark easily to score a perfect 125 points for price.
To sum up, the i10 is contemporary to look at, easy to drive, bristles with safety and convenience features and plays the "intended role" as close to perfection as it can get at this price point.
Business Standard Motoring Best Value 2008 � Chevrolet Spark
General Motors India's smallest car on sale has a lot going for it, yet it did not make it to the top honours this year because the i10 is simply an overall better car. Still, the Spark redeems itself on various counts.
It is fun to pilot, bubblegum cheerful and for a car of its size, has mature ride and handling abilities. Yet, it does not burn a hole in the pocket. For the money you pay, the Chevrolet Spark is simply a brilliant buy. Which is why it won the debut Business Standard Motoring Best Value 2008 award.
Business Standard Motoring Jury Award 2008 � Mahindra Renault Logan
If not for the i10, the Logan would have been our winner this year. It did so well across the board that we just had to give it our Jury Award.
This award is given to the most significant launch of the year other than the COTY, and by all means the Logan is certainly a very, very important car in the Indian market today. Three engine options - of which the diesel is incredibly frugal - superb underpinnings that impart a superb ride on our roads, well-thought out features, remarkable interior space... all these at a persuasive price point are the highlights of the Logan. Congratulations, Mahindra Renault!
Business Standard Motoring Performance Car Of The Year 2008 � BMW 325i
218 bhp at 6500 rpm. 25.1 kgm of torque between 2750 and 4250 rpm. A 2497cc inline-six. A power-to-weight ratio of 142 bhp per tonne. 0 to 100 kph in 8.98 secs. Top speed of 240 kph. But these are only the numbers and they are too cold to explain how scintillating the BMW 325i is to drive.
With power going to the rear wheels, low slung architecture and a near 50:50 weight balance, the 325i is indeed the ultimate driving production machine you can buy in the country. Ignore the iffy ride quality and the lack of adequate legroom. You have to be in the driver's seat of this car and seek out corners to straighten across the country. The BMW 325i is Business Standard Motoring Performance Car Of The Year 2008.
Business Standard Motoring Premium Car Of The Year 2008 � Volkswagen Passat
Europe's largest car manufacturer has made a debut in India with a car that simply overwhelms you for the price it's asking. The Volkswagen Passat is a clever car. It is loaded with an incredible array of features that are not available in cars that are substantially more expensive.
Each little aspect of the car is thought out and the car is built to standards that are seen only in luxury models. Besides this, the 140 bhp 2.0-litre diesel motor mated to the state-of-the-art DSG gearbox means this is a fantastic car to drive as well.
The Passat is indeed a machine that will make you feel good that you bought it... for years on end. Which is why it is the Business Standard Motoring Premium Car Of The Year 2008.
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